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The Reject Gift of Project Management

Ugly_sweaterThe ugly (as in "should be arrested for wearing it in public") sweater

The 100-pack of sausages from around the globe

The autographed autobiography of Britney Spears

Tube socks and Old Spice

So, do we have any other nominations for re-gifting?  Or should we do society a favor and make sure these things make it to the nearest dumpster, never to see the light of day again?  They are officially known as the undesirable Christmas present.  The first year I was married, my wife's grandmother sent me some very "interesting" underwear that was two sizes too small.  Suffice it to say, I was thankful that there was a gift receipt that came with them.

Unfortunately, projects do not come with gift receipts.  Some of them should.  We tend to lock our projects down with constraints the way we lock our friends and family down with Aunt Maude's Fruit Cake (which is actually the same cake that was baked in 1947, the year she was married, and has been regifted for the past 60 years).

The trick with project management is the same as in giving the "perfect" gift.  Find the general range of preference and just go for it.  Set some general parameters or boundaries.  Think of it as giving the project manager a gift card to his or her favorite store.  You've set up some boundaries for where they need to shop, but you've allowed them to decide what they want to get.  Instead of micromanaging the project manager, and forcing them to wear the light-up sweatshirt that blinks "I brake for reindeer," why not allow them to find their own way to a solution?

Kimberly Stevens of the WealthRing blog suggests creating a "How We Work Together" document at the BEGINNING of a client engagement that creates appropriate parameters and boundaries, setting expectations for all concerned.  If 90% of a project manager's time should be spent in communication, then setting expectations up front on boundaries, scope, and parameters will be critical to creating a relevant and meaningful business case.  It's like the all-desirable "gift card of project management."  It allows you to give the project manager room to breathe, room to select the meaningful answers right for the project (yet also that fits with the PM's comfort level as well as what is right for the project).

What about you?  What do you do to ensure boundaries are defined and maintained appropriately?  How do you prevent receiving the project equivalent of the hand-knitted Santa Claus tissue-cozy?

Carpe Factum!


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Hilarious Segue closed off with a great point.


Thanks Craig... I had fun brainstorming for bad gifts.

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